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Top Picks For Pitchfork Music Festival 2009

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The mammoth indie rock festival put on by tastemakers Pitchfork is landing in Chicago this weekend. From humble beginnings four years ago in Union Park, Pitchfork is now a true destination festival, selling out three day passes and Saturday and Sunday passes in record time.

The success of the festival is no surprise, given the consistent caliber of artists, the lower price bracket, record and craft fair, and relaxed atmosphere. Sure, it’s still a music festival, but much of the crowd at Pitchfork can be found lying with friends on blankets in the shade, just enjoying the music and a lovely day in the park.

If you plan on heading out to the festival, we’ve got some top picks for bands that you shouldn’t miss this weekend.

Friday

Note: Friday is the “Write the Night” series, where ticket holders choose the set list of every band playing that evening.

Who: Built to Spill
When and Where: Aluminum Stage, 8:40 pm
Why: One of the original kingpins of 90s alternative college rock, Built to Spill have influenced countless bands while crafting thoughtful and comforting, yet always entertaining indie rock.
Song to Check Out Before You Go: “Carry the Zero”

Saturday

Who: Cymbals Eat Guitars
When and Where: Aluminum Stage, 1:00 pm
Why: This young band self-released their own album, and play some of the best homage to 90s rock around. The music is familiar, and clearly a labor of love and enjoyment. If Cymbals Eat Guitars are already this successful at this stage in the game, a promising career will surely follow.
Song to Check Out Before You Go: “And the Hazy Sea”

Who: Beirut
When and Where: Connector Stage, 7:25 pm
Why: If you ever wanted a soundtrack to your life of Eastern European gypsy flair, then you must check out Beirut. The music is old world with a twist, and will fit perfectly in the summer breeze in the park on Saturday.
Song to Check Out Before You Go: “Postcards from Italy”

Who: The Black Lips
When and Where: Balance Stage, 8:30 pm
Why: Visceral bluesy garage rock is what you’ll get if you check out The Black Lips this weekend. Known for putting on ridiculous live shows, The Black Lips will surely put on an entertaining show full of sweaty raw rock.
Song to Check Out Before You Go: “Katrina”

Sunday

Who: The Thermals
When and Where: Aluminum Stage, 4:15 pm
Why: The Thermals have created some of my favorite songs. Their music has a frenzied quality about it, creating urgency in their post-punk songs. Simply put, their songs make me feel alive.
Song to Check Out Before You Go: “Here’s Your Future”

Who: Grizzly Bear
When and Where: Connector Stage, 7:25 pm
Why: Track after track of lush, soft, and dense melodies and harmonization is what you’ll find at Grizzly Bear Sunday. The band loves a slow build, and their performance a few years ago at Pitchfork gave me chills, and became one of my favorite sets of the festival.
Song to Check Out Before You Go: “Knife”

Who: The Flaming Lips
When and Where: Aluminum Stage, 8:40 pm
Why: Sure, The Flaming Lips have an impressive catalog of arena-worthy rock songs, but their live show elevates them to a level far above many bands. The Lips know a live show should be fun and a full experience, and they never disappoint. Expect a ton of confetti, dancing fans on stage, an army of balloons, and one lead singer crawling across the crowd in a giant bubble. A set that should not be missed.
Song to Check Out Before You Go: “W.A.N.D.”